July 1, 2002
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Golf OK For Most Heart Disease Patients But Could Be Dangerous For Others  

Walking the golf course while pulling a cart provides safe and adequate exercise for most people with heart disease, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins and Wake Forest universities. But patients should check with their health care provider before teeing off, they say.

"Some less-fit patients with heart disease are in danger of exceeding a safe level of exercise and should be encouraged to monitor their intensity on the golf course, or consider using a motorized cart," says Devon Dobrosielski, M.S., lead author of the study and a clinical exercise physiologist at Hopkins. "For individuals who are more fit, golf may not provide enough exercise to increase physical fitness. However, regular golf participation would allow individuals to meet the moderate-level physical activity recommendations published by the American College of Sports Medicine, which may result in other positive health benefits."

Dobrosielski and colleagues followed 20 male golfers ages 49 to 78, half with heart disease. The researchers gave all participants a graded exercise test to determine their bodies' capacity for exercise, then matched each participant with heart disease with a healthy adult of similar age. Each pair completed nine holes of golf while pulling a cart and wearing portable devices to measure oxygen consumption during play and rest periods.

On average, players with heart disease worked at 57 percent of their exercise capacity, while their healthier counterparts worked at only 46 percent of their exercise capacity. Some patients with heart disease at times exceeded 100 percent of exercise capacity. Results were published in a recent issue of the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation.

Dobrosielski, D. et al., "The Metabolic Demand of Golf in Patients with Heart Disease and in Healthy Adults," Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, 2002; Vol. 22: pages 96-104.



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